Take in the sights and sounds of the capital with our summer selection of London’s key attractions. Many of them are free, so what better time is there to go native in your own city…?
The official London residency of the British monarchy since 1837. Changing the Guard takes place in the forecourt at 11.30am every other day from August to March each year. The State Rooms are open for the summer (until 27 September), where the Queen Mother’s ‘White Wardrobe’ is currently on display.
Buckingham Palace Road SW1. Tel 020 7766 7300
Evocative recreation showing where Winston Churchill and his cabinet marshalled the war effort during the Blitz. Highlights include the recently opened Churchill Suite.
Clive Steps, King Charles Street SW1. Tel 020 7930 6961
Sightseeing cruises up and down the Thames depart from Westminster Pier, Waterloo Millennium Pier, Tower Millennium Pier and Greenwich Pier. You can choose your stop to suit your timetable.
Tel 020 7740 0400
Shops, market stalls, bars, restaurants and street theatre are all to be found here. Grab a drink at a pavement table and people watch to your heart’s content.
Covent Garden WC2. Tel 020 7836 9136
Moored on the Thames, this nine-deck warship with its gun turrets, officers’ cabins and mess decks offers an unrivalled insight into life in the Navy during World War II.
Morgan’s Lane, Tooley Street SE1. Tel 020 7940 6300
This impressive structure is home to the House of Commons, the House of Lords and Big Ben. With Parliament in recess, summer is the perfect time to tour the Palace (July to September).
Westminster SW1. Tel 020 7219 3000
A purpose built watery spectacle housing over 350 species of fish, from eels and manta rays to piranhas. Feeding time is a must and there are plenty of activities to keep children fascinated and amused.
County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road SE1. Tel 020 7967 8000
Discover the gory details of London’s bloody past, including the Great Plague and the devastation of the Great Fire of London. One of the capital’s most consistent tourist draws. Visit outside peak hours to avoid the crowds.
Tooley Street SE1. Tel 020 7403 7221
Book a flight (lasting roughly 30 minutes) on the world’s largest observation wheel and soar into the sky above the Thames to see some spectacular views over the capital and beyond. Have your picture taken in your pod for posterity.
South Bank SE1. Tel 0870 500 0600
Explore the serene backwaters of London aboard a traditional canal narrow boat. Trips depart from Little Venice, stop at London Zoo and then continue to Camden Lock.
Little Venice, off Edgeware Road W8. Tel 020 7482 2660
Still a perennial favourite despite the high-ish admission charges. Animal lovers can adopt anything from an ant to a tiger. Don’t forget the Giraffe House across the road.
Outer Circle, Regent’s Park NW1. Tel 020 7722 3333
Mangrove Carnival pants, London
August in west London rings to the sound of whistles at one of Europe’s largest carnivals, which sees all kinds of spectacular costumes and unhinged revelry. Top music sound systems and steel bands line the carnival route.
Ladbroke Grove and surrounding streets in W11.
See the capital in a new light on one of these daily walking tours. Choose from Shakespeare’s London, the Inns of Court, Darkest Victorian London and many more.
Various locations. Tel 020 7624 3978
One of London’s most recognisable landmarks, the bridge took eight years to build and was completed in 1894. A visit to the Tower Bridge Exhibition includes a tour of the Victorian engine rooms.
SE1. Tel 020 7403 3761
A Guy Fawkes effigy at the Tower
Aside from the Crown Jewels which are on permanent display in the Jewel House, highlights within the 23-towered fortress include a new audio visual exhibition telling the story of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.
EC3. Tel 0870 756 6060
The new-look, pedestrianised Trafalgar Square is also a pigeon-free zone. Nelson’s Column, the four bronze lions and the square’s fountains are perfect London backdrops for photo opportunities. Furthermore, over three weeks in August, visitors will be able to see an international line-up of actors, musicians and dancers as part of the inaugural Trafalgar Square festival.
WC2. Tel 020 7234 5800